Antoinette Halloran's personality shone through our television sets in the the long running 'Spicks 'n' Specks', where she bantered with the best, told witty anecdotes, and sang, to reveal an opera singer who isn't up herself.
What a chance then to see her live and enjoy her singing and humour.
Basically, the show contrived banter and several well-known arias and songs, all of them hits, to please the audience, which got all the blue references, and applauded strongly.
Staged in the Artspace in the Festival Theatre, an oddly shaped hall where noise absorbing curtains drape the back wall, the show's decision makers opted for amplification. While the richness of her chest range and middle register were easily conveyed through the mic, Antoinette had to restrain the glories of her top. Nevertheless, Halloran's range and her palette of vocal colour, found every internal contrast in each piece and contrasted that piece with the next.
The premise of the show was a fictitious book, 'Fifty Shades of Opera', to which Antoinette would refer, discover how opera was concerned with sex and heroines who were virgins, whores, et cetera, and then launch into song. From Musetta's 'Waltz Song', her choices wandered through many eras and styles, through Monteverdi, to the Habanera, 'My Heart Belongs To Daddy' and back to 'Caro Nome'.
Her accompanist Patrick Lawrence was far more than that, being her straight man and associate artist. With his jazz improvisations on the Habanera from Bizet's 'Carmen', plus other musical references thrown in, he asserted himself from the outset.
Few pieces were given in their entirety, but that could have made this a recital. Antoinette's gift for nuance made 'Softly Awakes My Heart' from 'Samson and Delilah' and 'Miss Otis Regrets' worth several recitals from other singers.
Outstanding was her sense of pitch, her unaccompanied singing being a lesson and a delight to us all.